There’s a bitter battle brewing at the heart of the UK’s beer industry as the Society of Independent Brewers (SIBA) launched a new kitemarking scheme called the Assured Independent British Craft Brewer seal.
“It's a simple accreditation which can be instantly recognised by beer drinkers on bottles or cans on supermarket shelves or on pump clips at the bar," explained SIBA chief executive Mike Benner.
Market research commissioned by SIBA last year showed that 46% of beer drinkers regard craft beer as “made by small brewers rather than large corporations”. However, one in 10 are unsure what the term means.
The confusion stems from the fact that, unlike the US, the UK has no official definition of craft beer. Whether we need one has been keenly debated for a number of years.
But SIBA has said that drinkers need clarity, given the number of big brewers gobbling up their smaller counterparts.
AB Inbev’s buyout of Camden Town Brewery and more recently Carlsberg’s purchase of the London Fields brand “raises a number of questions about genuine independence and ethics in the brewing industry”, said SIBA's south east regional director Ed Mason, who also runs Five Points Brewing in London.
SIBA’s new craft brewer logo is for brands that are brewing less than 200,000 hectolitres annually and are “truly independent of any larger controlling brewing interest”.
“The seal help ensure that customers can tell which beers are truly independent”, Mason added.